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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

In accordance with the Antiquities Code of Texas (13TAC26) and the National Historic Preservation Act (36CFR800), and the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) written recommendations on December 20, 2012, GTI Environmental, LLC (GTI) presents in this report the results of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and State Archaeological Landmark (SAL) testing investigations. The hand excavated 1 x 1 meter test unit investigation and report was prepared for the Austin Independent School District’s (AISD) Additional 2.7 Acre Access Road Project associated with its 27.36 Acre New Bus Terminal Project and 8 Acre Access Road Project in Travis County, Texas.

GTI prepared and submitted an Antiquities Permit Application and Research Design to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in accordance with 13TAC26.21(d). The THC issued Antiquities Permit No. 6450 to GTI for the SAL testing investigation. The THC is also known as the State Historic Preservation Office (THC/Tx-SHPO), which reviews federal Undertakings. The Additional 2.7 Acre Access Road Project is a federal Undertaking, because the access road crosses an unnamed tributary of Boggy Creek, which requires consideration and review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The testing investigation conforms to the National Historic Preservation Act (NRHP) requirement to assess effects a federal Undertaking [36CFR800.16(y)] may have to Historic Properties (36CFR800.5). The AISD 27.36 Acre Bus Terminal Project, 8 Acre Access Road Project, and the 2.7 Acre Additional Access Road Project, is considered the overall direct Area of Potential Effect (APE), in accordance with 36CFR800.16(d).

GTI conducted the fieldwork from February 6, 2013 through February 14, 2013. The research design proposed five to ten test units within the Additional 2.7 Acre Access Road Project APE. In accordance with 13TAC26.21(d), THC/TX-SHPO guidance was sought prior to research design preparation, and the agency recommended that the Principal Investigator consult with them regarding the total number of test units to be excavated during fieldwork in an effort to exhaust the research potential at 41TV2408 or conduct less than the proposed maximum 10 test units if the results of excavations were less than anticipated [Personal Communication 2012: Bill Martin November 29, 2012]. GTI consulted with THC/TX-SHPO on February 14, 2013 and February 19, 2013. A total of six test units were excavated. The test unit grid was established in a north south axis that would provide a cross sectional profile of the east-west access road alignment. The grid’s north south axis was along the topographic toe-slope where the artifacts were more abundant and the soil was the deepest. Archaeologists encountered a single feature in Test Unit 2 and Test Unit6 at the southern boundary of the project APE. A one gallon soil sample was obtained from Test Unit 2 hearth feature. Neither faunal (bones), nor charcoal was visible after screening the soil sample and flotation based on examination through an Olympus microscope that matched the amounts required for AMS dating; i.e. radio carbon dating requires at least 15 to 20 milligrams. Archaeologists attempted to excavate a 1x2 meter unit east and adjacent to Shovel Test 4 (Iruegas 2013) that indicated the deepest part of the prehistoric midden. A large rodent borrow was present further east of the 1x2m test unit. Excavations in Test Unit 4 established that this area of the midden was intact based on the discovery of a scrapper lying flat on a surface with other flat lying burned rock near the bottom of Level 1. During excavation of Test Unit 4 at Level 3, archaeologists encountered a large cavity associated with the rodent borrows that was at least 40 cm deep and comprised at least 60 percent of Test Unit 4. The buried prehistoric cultural midden deposit evident in Shovel Test 4 during the survey had been truncated by the rodent burrow and compromised the data in this area of the project APE. In consultation with Mr. Brad Jones of THC on Feb. 14, 2013, it was decided to terminate Test Unit 4 and excavate another test unit in the northern area of the project APE and another test unit where the hearth feature was documented. Our efforts resulted in a 1x2 meter unit (Test Unit 2 and Test Unit 6). We encountered bedrock in each test unit, except Test Unit 4, within the first three 10 cm Levels. Archaeologists encountered a very high frequency of lithics and dispersed burned rock in the test units, but no evidence of bones, diagnostic artifacts, such as arrow heads, dart points or projectile points, or datable organic charcoal material

Based on the intact hearth feature in Test Unit 2 at the southern end of the project APE, it is highly probable that other hearth features and cultural deposits are present and intact along the toe-slope outside the project APE. Because of the lack of diagnostic artifacts, bone samples, and organic charcoal samples, the wide range of cultural and scientific resources considered in the research design could not be addressed. In general, the cultural assemblage recovered from the test units was less productive than anticipated 13TAC26.21(d)(C) that would warrant mitigation.

It is GTI’s Principal Investigator’s opinion that the portion of 41TV2408 within AISD’s Additional 2.7 Acre Access Road Project APE is not worthy for SAL designation or eligible for listing in the NRHP. The site’s (41TV2408) worthiness for designation as a SAL or eligibility for listing in the NRHP outside the project APE is unknown. GTI recommends that the project may proceed as planned provided no additional acreage is required for the AISD Access Road Project. If additional land is required, AISD should consult with the THC regarding the need for further NRHP and SAL testing.

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